Friday, April 08, 2005

Safire: Goodbye to Privacy

This Sunday's New York Times Review of Books contains (or will contain) a review by William Safire of "No Place to Hide" and "Chatter: Dispatches From the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping". It clearly discloses Safire's take on the privacy issue and gives a good review of both titles, firmly within the context of current events.

The New York Times > Books > Sunday Book Review > Goodbye to Privacy:

"... In the past five years, what most of us only recently thought of as ''nobody's business'' has become the big business of everybody's business. Perhaps you are one of the 30 million Americans who pay for what you think is an unlisted telephone number to protect your privacy. But when you order an item using an 800 number, your own number may become fair game for any retailer who subscribes to one of the booming corporate data-collection services. In turn, those services may be -- and some have been -- penetrated by identity thieves.

The computer's ability to collect an infinity of data about individuals -- tracking every movement and purchase, assembling facts and traits in a personal dossier, forgetting nothing -- was in place before 9/11. But among the unremarked casualties of that day was a value that Americans once treasured: personal privacy.

The first civil-liberty fire wall to fall was the one within government that separated the domestic security powers of the F.B.I. from the more intrusive foreign surveillance powers of the C.I.A. The 9/11 commission successfully mobilized public opinion to put dot-connection first and privacy protection last. But the second fire wall crumbled with far less public notice or approval: that was the separation between law enforcement recordkeeping and commercial market research. Almost overnight, the law's suspect list married the corporations' prospect list...."

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